The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade - article from the New York Journal from the summer of 1896, the height of the 1890s "bicycle craze."
"Infographic" illustrating the growth in bicycle cycles from 1891 to 1896
From the text of the very long article:
IN all the wonder story of commerce and money dealings from the days of the Phoenicians there is no chapter so astounding as that which tells of the bicycle. A toy, it has overturned the trade of nations within the compass of five fleeting years. Serious people laughed at it and called the folk who rode it today those same serious people have recalled their capital from world-wide enterprises and started it anew In the bicycle business to save'themselves from commercial shipwreck. The whirring of these cobweb wheels has been like the spider's spinning - silent, wonderful. Fortunes have been made as if by magic.
The facts and figures are appalling. Commerce, for all its keen vision, can not read them aright. Five years ago, in this whole wide country, not 60,00Q bicycles were made or sold, and the solid, stolid business men made mock of the Mark the change. In this year of grace and pneumatic tires, four-fifths of a million of wheels be marketed in the United States alone. The leaders in the bicycle trade say that an average price for these machines us $80. Multiply. There will have been spent this year in the United States alone, for bicycles. The world is bicycle mad.
The article is quite long, but the suggestion is that the popularity of bicycles and the amount of money spent on bicycles by consumers caused a fall in other products, including from the sale of horses to cigars and jewelry.
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